Video produced and edited by Libby Rainey and Ian McKenna
The workers who make the popular snack food Corn Nuts have been on strike for over a month, after multi-billion dollar corporation Hormel slashed their benefits. They’re paying thousands of dollars for health care and workers with cancer have been forced to skip care all together. Below is a full transcript of the video.
Jon Schneider: I’m a two-time cancer survivor. So under Kraft, we had a Kaiser plan. And with that plan, I didn’t have to pay anything into my surgeries, or procedures, or the chemotherapy. All that was taken care of. After Hormel started, I had to pay $140 just to see a doctor.
Jon: I’m really concerned about my health, especially — yearly, I’m supposed to have imaging
and I’m not going to be able to afford being able to do imaging, blood tests, for them to test for my cancer.
[Workers on picket line]: No contract, No Crunch!
The workers who make Corn Nuts are on strike after billion-dollar company Hormel slashed their benefits.
Lulu Castro: I’ve been working here for 22 years, and the position I’m in now is sad for me, to see the amount I have to pay for health insurance. It’s sad because I work really hard.
Jon: I’m on strike for better health care.
Rashpal Tiwana: My message to Hormel is that I need a good plan, like I used to have.
Workers at this plant in Fresno, CA, make, package, and ship Corn Nuts.
Tou Her: I mean, they make a lot of money out there for Corn Nuts because this is the only facility that makes Corn Nuts.
Hormel bought the Corn Nuts brand in 2021.
Lulu: When Hormel came in, they showed us a contract and told us if we don’t sign, we wouldn’t have a job come Monday.
Workers say their healthcare costs have increased drastically under Hormel.
Rashpal: When Hormel bought the company, we got the worst insurance.
Tou: When I was working here [when Corn Nuts was owned by] Kraft Heinz, I had four kids. During that time, I didn’t pay anything. When Hormel’s took over, I had my last [baby] and I had to pay $3,000 out of my pocket.
Rashpal: I’ve been canceling my appointments due to too much cost for me.
Sky Lopez: Obviously, I’m on my mom’s health insurance. It’s important because I need the visits for my condition. I have heart conditions. So once Hormel bought [Corn Nuts], I obviously had to find a new doctor and everything. And my first bill came out to $1,630. It was my first bill just for a consultation.
Lulu: I’m scared. How am I going to pay that bill?
Rashpal: One cranial surgery, one open skull surgery. I had 40 stitches on my brain and I stayed eight days in the hospital in Redwood City. And then after three months, my iron was low. They got me another surgery. That didn’t cost me anything. I just paid $20 and everything else was 100% paid by the insurance.
[producer]: So you had amazing insurance?
Rashpal: Amazing insurance. Very good insurance. I miss that insurance very much.
Sky: Obviously, I try to help my parents out. In seeing that bill, I knew even with me working, I wasn’t going to be able to help them pay that out really fast.
In FY 2021 paid over $500 million to investors in dividends after raking in $1.93 billion in gross profit.
Jon: They say that they are all about their employees. They want to do what’s best for them.
[CEO of Hormel Foods]: Again, we’ve always been very responsible to our communities and our team members.
Jon: Well then do what’s best for them. Give us what we deserve: better health care.
The Corn Nuts workers have been on strike since August 15.
Jon: It was about 42 people that walked out. Everybody is out here.
Tou: Well, we’ve been here—I believe this is our fourth week. Last week, it was 110, 112, 113 degrees. And everybody will still be out here.
Jon: We really want that health care. And it’s worth being out here trying to fight for it.
Hormel has responded by cutting off their medical insurance during the strike.
Rashpal: On August 15, they sent us a letter overnight, delivered by FedEx—your insurance is cut off from this day, you have no health plan.
Workers say Hormel has refused to negotiate in good faith, and that their strike will continue until they win better healthcare.
Rashpal: I’m angry, frustrated, my husband and myself under stress.
Lulu: I want them to think about their families, if they were in a situation like mine.
Tou: We just got to do what we got to do. We got to stand for ourselves
and for our families.
Jon: No contract. No crunch.
Videography by Scotty Wagner